We have been engulfed by the politics of fear for too long, where 9/11 was used as a way to scare up votes instead of a way to bring us together around a common purpose to defeat a common enemy.
People say, “He’s so idealistic, he’s so naitve…he’s a hopemonger.” I’ve heard this criticism that I’m pedddling false hopes, that I need a reality check. The notion is that if you’re realistic you set your sights low, but if you talk about hope you have your head in the clouds, just waiting for things to happen to them . I have to remind people that’s not what hope is.
IIt’s true I talk about hope a lot. I have to – the odds of me being here are not very high [cheers]. I was raised by a single mom and my two grandparents and they didn’t have a lot of money, they didn’t have a lot of status. They could give me love, education and hope. But I need to explain that hope is not blind optimism. Hope is not ignorance of the challenges that lie before us.
I know how hard it will be to provide health care to everybody … to change our energy policy. I know how hard it is to alleviate poverty … I know how hard it is to lift up our schools. It will involve parents and communities changing their mindset about our children. I’ve seen good legislation die because good intentions were not enough. They were not fortified by political will or political power.
I’ve seen how this country’s judgment has been clouded by fear and division; how we’ve been made to be afraid of each other, afraid of immigrants, afraid of gays, afraid of people who don’t look like us. I know how hard change is. But I also know this: that nothing in this country has never happened unless someone, somewhere, was willing to hope….
[Hope is] imagining what can be, and then fighting for it. Working for what did not seem possible before. And this is our moment, this is our chance.